Though it’s still firmly mid-pandemic, 2021 starts off on a hopeful note with the rollout of COVID vaccines in Canada. The 21st Wavelength Winter Festival (WL 808-813, Feb. 17-27) takes place entirely online, yet it’s a wonderfully diverse celebration of resilience, with several performances highlighting Black Canadian creators co-presented by Harbourfront Centre’s “Kuumba” Black History Month series. Highlights include horrorcore rapper Backxwash burning up the camera from Montreal’s La Sala Rossa, indie-pop icon Hannah Georgas live in studio at Union Sound Co., a charming bed-meets-studio set from Vancouver/Toronto ambient jazz trio Shabason, Krgovich & Harris, and a soul-stirring performance and talk by Canadian composition legend Beverly Glenn-Copeland. Online talks include a vibrant, timely discussion into “The Future of Music Venues in Toronto.”
As the warm weather returns and the vaccine rollout reaches the general population, Wavelength returns to in-person programming with one of Toronto’s first live music festivals since the start of the pandemic. TOPS x Wavelength takes over Fort York with five days of live music and film over the Labour Day long weekend (Sept. 1-5, WL 820) co-presented with our friends at the Toronto Outdoor Picture Show. It’s an emotional occasion for many people, as it’s the first time they have either attended or performed live in 18 months. Gorgeous weather sees folks spread out on blankets on the grass, enjoying being out with others again. Highlights include fiery glam-rockers Cat and the Queen before the cinematic fireworks of Brimstone and Glory, and queer R&B singer Desiire before a screening of seminal ballroom doc Paris Is Burning.
And in the fall, Wavelength returns to indoor venues — while still at restricted capacities — with two memorably sold-out shows at 918 Bathurst, featuring Bodywash and Polite Society (WL 821, Oct. 23), and Marker Starling, Animatist, and a virtual set by France’s Nina Savary (WL 822, Nov. 20).
- Psychedelic folk-rockers Beams release their new album and premiere a new pandemic concert film & documentary (WL 814, March 26)
- Soul singer Odario livestreaming from Union Sound Co. in an online double bill with underground rap hero More Or Les (WL 815, April 29)
- Waveworld, a “virtual world happening” in online environment Bramble, where attendees can simulate an IRL show experience by choosing sci-fi avatars, exploring different rooms, checking out sets by electronic artists Sonja and Ben McCarthy, dancing via keystroke to DJ Brendan Canning (WL 816, May 20)
- Toronto gothic psych-rockers Ace of Wands celebrate their EP release with a variety show featuring guests Robin Hatch and Zinna (WL 818, June 24)